Parachute teen part of America’s Homecoming Queen contest
When Grand Valley High School graduate Korrie Jean Hurt was crowned homecoming queen of her school, she almost couldn’t believe it. When she was crowned homecoming queen of Colorado, she really couldn’t.
“When they said that I won, I was like, ‘What?’” she said. “I seriously thought I had no chance because I looked exhausted, and I stuttered. But they said, ‘You get an all-expense paid trip to Memphis, and you can go and try to get scholarship money.’ So I’ve been getting ready all summer for this.”
After being named Colorado’s Homecoming Queen, Hurt is flying to Memphis today and will spend the rest of the week there competing in the America’s Homecoming Queen pageant and scholarship competition. If she wins, she’ll put that money toward an education in microbiology at the University of Arizona.
Hurt never competed in pageants before, which makes this whole experience even more exciting for her. After being crowned homecoming queen at Grand Valley High School, she received a letter in the mail inviting her to compete in a statewide homecoming queen pageant. She got her school to sponsor her, and she traveled to Denver for a grueling day — made worse by her near-sleepless night before it.
“I went to Denver right after prom,” she said. “We had prom on Saturday, and then after-prom — instead of everyone going out and partying, everyone comes to the high school, and we have games. So I didn’t get home until 3 a.m., and I had to wake up at 5 to drive to Denver. I was so tired, and I was going to tell my mom, ‘Let’s not even do it.’”
But Hurt slept on the three-hour car ride to Denver and managed to impress the judges during her interview and during the pageant portion, even though she felt she must have been doing a terrible job on such little sleep.
“I went and had an interview with the judges, and I thought I did terrible because I stutter all the time, and I talk with my hands, and you’re not supposed to talk with your hands,” she said. “After the interview, we did a mini-pageant. And then they said that I won, and I was like, ‘Wait, me? Like, Korrie? Me?’”
Her success on the state level surprised her, too, because she comes from such a small town. Hurt was born in Glenwood Springs and spent her entire life in Parachute, a town with a little more than 1,000 people. Her freshman class at the University of Arizona has about eight times that many people in it.
“When I went to orientation, they were talking about my class size now; I’m a freshman of 8,000 kids,” she said. “I was like, ‘Whoa, I’ve never seen that many people in my life.’”
Hurt plans to earn her Ph.D. in biology and become an epidemiologist. She’s loved science her whole life, she said, and she even took senior-level science classes well before she was a senior.
Hurt was also an athlete in high school, participating in volleyball, track and cheerleading and working as the boys basketball manager. She didn’t make the pom line at the University of Arizona this year — there were 200 girls trying out for four spots — but she plans to get back in dance classes and try again next year.
Hurt said she’s been having a fun summer so far — her last one in Colorado for a while — but it hit her over the weekend how quickly all these changes are coming up in her life: She’s leaving to compete to become America’s Homecoming Queen today, and she’s moving to Arizona in about a month, leaving the only home she’s ever known.
“It’s so weird,” she said. “When I was little, I didn’t understand that people moved because I lived in the same house my whole entire life. So when friends would say, ‘I’m moving,’ I’d be like, ‘Why?’ It didn’t make sense. And now I’m leaving the place I grew up in.”
Hurt doesn’t see herself as the “pageant type,” but she hopes her sincerity is enough to win the judges over so she can earn a scholarship to put toward college. Even if she doesn’t win, though, she thinks meeting the other girls will be a good experience for her and maybe even lead to long-lasting friendships with young women who are also involved in their schools, communities and churches.
Hurt feels like the underdog, but after winning in Colorado, she’s gaining some confidence.
“At first, even in the state pageant, I felt like I had no chance because the girls I was against were running from these huge 4A schools, and I’m from an itty bitty school,” she said. “And then with this, I’m like, ‘Great, little country-come-to-town is going to win this thing?’ But reading about these other girls on Facebook, most of them came from small towns, too, so it gave me a better state of mind. I’m going to go out there and do my best and hope for the best.”
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